Red Sox turn to Beckett against Felix's Mariners

The top team in the American League tries to add some game set at Safeco Field.

Boston, which is two games ahead of the New York Yankees in the race for first place in the division, had lost the first two games of the season against the Mariners at Fenway Park back in late April, but since then the Sox have rattled off five straight victories including a 6-4 decision last night.

Josh Reddick delivered a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning for the Red Sox, while David Ortiz finished up 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI, and Jed Lowrie also went deep for Boston, which has won five of six overall.

Boston starter John Lackey won his sixth straight decision and the 11th overall after giving up four runs on 10 hits in six-plus frames.

"I didn't really ever get into a rhythm, it was kind of a grind," Lackey said. "I was able to make enough pitches to get out of those first couple jams and the boys came through with some runs."

Seattle hurler Blake Beavan allowed six runs on 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings in defeat, the Mariners' fourth in five games. With the setback the team finds itself now 16 games out of contention in the AL West.

Offensively for the Mariners, Mike Carp had three hits and as many RBI, two coming on a bases-loaded single in the first inning which gave the hosts an early lead and some optimism.

As if losing the game were not enough Seattle's Justin Smoak, who was returning from a bruised left thumb, again found himself in harm's way in the second inning last night when a hard-shot by Jarrod Saltalamacchia took a wicked hop and caught the first baseman on the left side of the face, leaving him with a broken nose. Smoak was also undergoing a CT scan following the episode to determine the extent of the damage.

Boasting one of the best earned run averages in the American League, Josh Beckett heads back to the mound for the Red Sox tonight. The right-hander, who is already 1-0 this season and 6-1 in his career versus the Mariners, hasn't won since July 23 when the Sox posted a 3-1 win over Seattle at home, yet his last two outings this month have both provided his team with victories nonetheless.

Last weekend Beckett, a candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, allowed just one run on six hits, walking two and striking out five over six innings in a 3-2 triumph versus the New York Yankees at home.

Since the second week of May Beckett has made a total of 16 appearances and the Red Sox have turned those efforts into 14 wins.

As for the Mariners, they are set to go with Felix Hernandez, the right-hander trying to bounce back from a loss at Anaheim on Sunday. Against the Angels Hernandez, who is the reigning Cy Young Award winner in the AL, actually lowered his season ERA to 3.31 as he permitted just two earned runs on four hits, while striking out 12 over the course of eight innings, yet Seattle still suffered the 2-1 setback.

One of the league leaders in strikeouts with 174, Hernandez has pitched in far too many games in which he failed to earn enough run support from his teammates to fully compete, which is why he is just .500 on the campaign at 10-10.

Today's matchup pits the two extremes in American League batting against each other, with Boston leading the league with a healthy .281 average and the Mariners bringing up the rear with just a .230 effort through 117 games. The power numbers for the Sox are head-and-shoulders above that of Seattle as the former has 144 home runs and the latter a mere 69 long balls which is again the fewest in the league right now.